Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: DCF construction is lightweight and waterproof, super spacious, four season use
Cons: Requires lashing two poles together for setup, very expensive, no floor or bug protection built in
Manufacturer: Hyperlite Mountain Gear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We choose to recognize the HMG UltaMid 2 as the most spacious of the ultralight tent options in this review, with excellent wind and weather protection, as well as privacy. It begs the question: why wouldn't you want this Mid for your backpacking trip and thru-hike, except for the incredibly high price tag? But, seeing as how it's entirely made of Dyneema Composite Fiber (DCF), formerly known as Cuben Fiber, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.
While it provides great weather protection, it also offers awesome four-season adaptability, which is a considerable advantage over other three-season tents. One of our only complaints was that this tent is so tall that a single adjustable trekking pole is not tall enough to support it, thus requiring you to lash together two poles, hang it from above, or get creative. To help with this problem, and make it more versatile for those not carrying trekking poles, we wish that HMG sold a modular collapsible pole that could work, but alas they do not. This complaint aside, if you have the money and want one of the most spacious and weather-resistant ultralight tents available, then check it out.
This tent has a ton of interior space, enough for two people to comfortably sleep, store gear, and for a dog or two to join in the fun. It is also quite tall, with steep walls, offering plenty of room for sitting up inside and moving about, luxuries that are not present in the small dedicated-pole two-person tents.
However, this Mid does not have a floor or built-in bug protection. Hyperlite Mountain Gear offers two different solutions to solve this problem in a modular manner — a bug insert without a floor or with a floor. We tested the bug insert without floor while working on this review (all scores and data in this review reflectonly the mid without insert), and while it worked well to accomplish its purpose, it adds notable weight, expense, and especially bulk when in use, just like most modular inserts.
Having only a single wall made out of a non-permeable fabric, condensation build-up inside can be a problem. There is a mesh-covered vent at the apex of the pyramid that opens and closes to combat this. Also, added ventilation is available by setting it up with a gap above the ground so that air can circulate through.
On Hyperlite Mountain Gear's website, this tent lists as weighing only 1 pound 1.6 ounces, with the included guy lines. However, on our independent scale, we weighed it numerous times at 1 lb. 7.7 ounces with guy lines; a difference of six ounces. Included with your purchase is the tent itself, cordage for each of the eight staking points along the perimeter of the tent, extra cordage for guying out the sides or rigging it from a tree, and the DCF stuff sack. You will need to purchase your own stakes separately, have two adjustable trekking poles with a means to attach them for added height, and some ground cover for sleeping on inside this floorless tent.
When it comes to weather resistance, there is no doubt that DCF fiber is in a league of its own, offering many advantages over its main rival, SilNylon. DCF is not only lighter than silnylon but also functionally totally waterproof, providing the ultimate in rain and snow protection. It also doesn't absorb water, meaning it won't stretch and sag when it gets wet, is less prone to ripping, and is very easy to fix in the field. The fact that this Mid used DCF is a major reason why it ranks so high in this metric. Not only do we think this tent is excellent at protecting you from the water, but it is also highly wind resistant. Set up low to the ground without a gap, it is incredibly wind resistant and offers an exceptional level of competition.
This Mid has a fixed design, and essentially can only be set up in one shape. However, it does have the adaptability of using two lashed together trekking poles for structure, or a stick or paddle, or it can also be hung from a tree branch if you can find a suitable one. Despite the fixed design, it is one of the most adaptable tents because of its four-season capabilities, and the fact that it is stable in almost any conceivable location.
In the winter, having no floor gives one the option of digging out the ground beneath it if set up in snow or on a glacier, making it a good base camp tent. Worth noting is that if used in this manner, DCF fabric has a much lower tolerance for heat than silnylon, increasing the risk of cooking inside of it significantly. The 3' long stake-out cords included with purchase, combined with line locks on eight separate points along the perimeter, make this tent easy to adjust up or down for either more airflow or more wind protection as needed, and are versatile enough to wrap around rocks or bury in the snow if the ground will not take stakes. All of these features work to make it one adaptable option!
Ease of Set-up
In theory, this is an easy shelter to set up, BUT for one tiny headache — it is too tall for one adjustable trekking pole. HMG recommends that you buy "ultra mid pole straps" from them, which allows you to easily lash two poles together to provide the needed height (these look exactly like utility ski straps commonly used by backcountry skiers, so you could also use some of those). Of course, this means if you are base-camping, then two poles are tied up in the tent instead of just one, and it takes more time to do this and adjust them every day than if only one was needed. In our field testing, we managed to find tall flat rocks that we could stack on the ground and balance the pole on top of, which seemed to work just fine when tensioned in place, as long as you can find some suitable rocks.
Setting this tent up is as easy as staking out all four corners, then crawling inside and propping up the center with your already lashed together trekking poles. Adding stakes to the wall midpoints and door, as well as adjusting the tightness, which is made easy by the line-locks in place at the staking points, is the last step. This process is easy for one person, even in a storm, but takes a little longer due to having to lash the poles together. Just remember to bring your own stakes, pole straps, and adjustable poles.
This tent is super expensive and quite the investment. For those familiar with DCF, this price tag should not be a surprise. That said, you must pay for the very best materials, and the craftsmanship and design of this tent match the cost. We think this tent does indeed provide good value. Especially for couples seeking a tent that is lightweight and incredibly weather resistant. It works great for four-seasons use, the affinity to function as a base camp or cook tent. Those that appreciate all of these things will find great value in this big investment.
We chose to recognize the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 as a super spacious ultralight option suitable for any four-season adventure. While the price is high, this attribute is a worthy point to consider when comparing it many of the very tiny, cramped, and uncomfortable ultralight tents available today; you don't have to trade comfort to have lightweight performance.
— Amber King & Andy Wellman